A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music

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University of Chicago Press, Sep 15, 2008 - Social Science - 690 pages
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Founded in 1965 and still active today, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) is an American institution with an international reputation. George E. Lewis, who joined the collective as a teenager in 1971, establishes the full importance and vitality of the AACM with this communal history, written with a symphonic sweep that draws on a cross-generational chorus of voices and a rich collection of rare images.

Moving from Chicago to New York to Paris, and from founding member Steve McCall’s kitchen table to Carnegie Hall, A Power Stronger Than Itself uncovers a vibrant, multicultural universe and brings to light a major piece of the history of avant-garde music and art.

 

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As much as I enjoyed the accounting of an organization with which I was an active particpant, I was somewhat disappointed that the author, failed to reach out to more of us regarding certain circumstances and situations that occurred in order to make it more authentic rather than the heresay, or the impression of those who were around. I was very much a part of the growth of the AACM from the 70's through the 80's when it made a major transition and transformed itself. In fact, I was a member of the first advisory board and the first meeting was held at my home at 6744 S. Chappel, Chicago, Illinois. I created the first press/media kit for the AACM which was designed by Floyd Webb. I still own a copy. I have hundreds of photo's from the AACM concerts and events by Nancy Carter, Floyd Webb and Teri Gardner.
How wonderful it is that George was able to write about this historic organization of which he is a member and to do so during a period in which many of the members are still living. And yet many of the more dynamic headliners as well as pioneers have gone on. My point is, if you have the opportunity to seek out and interview those who were there then do it. Don't skimp data for any reason. It's always better to have too much information than too little. Too much gives life to a second volume where as too little leaves a void in the story being told. The AACM is/was a richly textured organization made up of a certain manner of musician/artist. Each brought a unique contribution to the organization under one philosophy which was interpreted by many and often up for discussion, dialog and debate. This is what gave life to the organization: the organic aspect of it. And I'd dare say is why it continues to exist.
It was a huge undertaking and I am glad that George Lewis took it on because now it's done by one who was inside the AACM where as all other attempts have been from the "outsider" looking in who thought he was an "insider". So now that it's been done, there is still a need for yet another perspective to be presented. So thank you George for your documentation of the AACM.
Kai EL Zabar
 

Contents

1 FOUNDATIONS AND PREHISTORY
1
2 NEW MUSIC NEW YORK
29
3 THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE EXPERIMENTAL BAND
55
4 FOUNDING THE COLLECTIVE
85
5 FIRST FRUITS
115
6 THE AACM TAKES OFF
163
7 AMERICANS IN PARIS
215
8 THE AACMS NEXT WAVE
259
11 INTO THE THIRD DECADE
439
12 TRANSITION AND REFLECTIONS
481
Afterword
497
List of Interviews Conducted by the Author
515
Selected AACM Recordings
519
Notes
525
Bibliography
601
Index
637

9 THE AACM IN NEW YORK
325
10 THE NEW REGIME IN CHICAGO
389

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About the author (2008)

George E. Lewis is the Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music at Columbia University. A recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship in 2002, Lewis has made over 120 recordings as composer or performer, and his publications on experimental music appear regularly in scholarly and popular journals.

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